The good, the bad, and the bloody. Conceptualisations of menstruation across genders and languages

Boughenout, Kamilia M. (2023) The good, the bad, and the bloody. Conceptualisations of menstruation across genders and languages. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Menstruation is a particularly prominent aspect of the life of the many bodies that experience it. From menarche in adolescence to menopause in later life, the implications are not only biological and medical, but also social, cultural and political. Myths, religions, cultures, medicine, and scholarship from diverse fields have concerned themselves with this event for decades, indeed centuries, creating the complex interplay that now informs the menstrual experience and discourse. Yet, beyond anthropologically exploring the status of ‘taboo’ that keeps menstruation hidden, the metaphors in this discourse remain to be fully analysed from a cognitive linguistics perspective. Furthermore, there has been little acknowledgement of gender and linguistic variance within that discourse, particularly of trans individuals and speakers of Arabic and its dialects. There is a wealth of metaphorical expressions that were born within this complex landscape, and that are now used to think and speak about menses, particularly in some types of language and among certain populations.

This project aims to fill this gap as it focuses on uncovering the conceptual metaphors of menstruation that exist in everyday language, while including menstruators and non-menstruators alike, as well as speakers of Arabic and its dialect, using a Conceptual Metaphor Theory-based investigation of these metaphors. For this purpose, a survey of participants is first used to gather data which is examined through a semantic tagger, the Historical Thesaurus, and the Mapping Metaphor online tool. This analysis results in the identification of several conceptual metaphors pertaining to the domains PART OF NATURE or NATURAL PART OF LIFE, SOMETHING DIRTY or UPKEEP, PURIFICATION, A PERIOD OF TIME or A PERIOD OF THE HEALTH CYCLE, A HABIT, BLOOD, BLESSING AND TORMENT, A VISITOR, and THE COLOUR RED. Menstruators and non-menstruators rely on those domains and engage in creative coinages of new expressions to create a linguistic point that is informed by their purposes in communication and from which they are able to communicate exactly what and how they want, whether it is to comply with or to defy convention and taboo. Therefore, the usage of menstrual metaphors, beyond its tabooed background and its reflections of societal constraints, is first and foremost a strategic tool for menstruators in particular to be able to accomplish any communicative goal they have in a manner that they deem safe and suitable.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Anderson, Professor Wendy and Greer, Dr. Stephen
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83906
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2023 14:27
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2023 14:28
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83906

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